Thursday, February 28, 2008

China importing cheap and unsafe materials to Burma?

Most of the Adidas and Nike shoes I bought in the US were made in China. The quality was good, at least, because of the quality control imposed by the US government.

However, the products imported to Burma from China are dirt-cheap. There is also no quality control on both sides of the border. People with low income needs cheap and affordable materials.

The following quotes are from Fires Continue to Plague Mandalay.

A Burmese engineer now working in Singapore explained that the frequent occurrence of fires in Burma is largely due to the poor quality of materials used in the country.

There is no quality control by authorities in Burma, and most of the electrical materials that Burmese people use are imported from China. These are very cheap and don't last very long, he said.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Injured Burmese from Mae Sot bomb blast detained and sent back to Burma

Eleven persons who were injured in a blast apparently caused by some kind of homemade bomb at the Mae Sot dump on Thailands border were themselves detained and then sent back to Burma on February 26 because they didnt have ID cards.

Read more at Ratchasima

Monday, February 04, 2008

Blessed are the meek --- the adventure of an unknown girl on a Sunday

It was a cloudy Sunday morning and humid outside as I got off from the sky train.

I was on my way to Bangkok Christ Church.

The church was founded by Burmese people who were working in Bangkok at various professions -- from housemaids to university professors. It was a hang-out for many Burmese who wanted to get
away from work-related stresses. They wanted to be together with God and friends, seeking peace, serenity and a sense of family and friends in a land away from home and loved ones.

Many Burmese came to church as Sunday was their day off. It was a relief for them to be away from construction sites where they worked and lived, from houses where they worked as maids, and from schools where they studied. Meeting and mixing with people who shared the same faith but came from different backgrounds was also a great experience of coming to church.

My friend, Saw Chan Nyein Aung, was no exception. He was on a business trip to Bangkok and wanted to come to church. His Singapore company sent him here to do some work for their client. He was working hard the whole week. He wanted to rest on the Sabbath, and talk to friends and God.

I told him, on the phone, that I would wait for him near Asia hotel because it was easy to give directions to the hotel.

Before going straight to church, I had to wait for him near the hotel, which was just next to the sky train station.

Asia hotel was full of Western tourists who were running away from freezing winters back home. Taxi drivers were looking for tourists for solicitations as if eagles were looking for their preys.
Tuk Tuk drivers were also there.

I was standing near the unofficial taxi stand where tourists and taxi drivers were negotiating for fares.

Near the corner of my eye, I saw a policeman on a motorbike. He was talking to a girl in a black T-shirt and pants.

That instantly reminded me of familiar scenes in which Thai policemen were distorting money from helpless migrant workers.

The policeman picked her out to be a Burmese. Her facial characteristics stood out among the crowd. The black T-shirt and pants, which she was wearing to conform with the locals mourning for the death of the Thai king's sister, did not help her.

I was watching them from far away. He was on the phone, probably talking to the broker who helped her get a work permit in Thailand (if she ever had one), or her friends to come and rescue her with a ransom of about US $ 100 (if she did not have a work permit). After about 5 minutes, he finished talking on the phone.

They came towards me. The policeman was riding the motorbike slowly ahead of her. She was walking from behind. As the policeman got a bit far ahead of her, she ran into an alley. However, the policeman looked back and saw her disappear. He headed his motorbike back. Somebody pointed to the direction she ran. The policeman followed her and caught her. He at last put her on the back of the motorbike and came towards me.

They got into the hotel compound, passing me. They stopped near the door leading to the lobby under the portico. The girl sat on the stairs near the door. The policeman was sitting on the motorbike.

I didn't exactly know what was going on because I was a bit far from them. They seemed to be waiting for something. Maybe the girl's friends would come to pay ransom for her release.

I was there for about 10 more minutes. My heart was starting to beat fast, wanting to document or do something. I couldn't imagine how she would be feeling at that moment.

My friend finally came. I asked him if he got a camera. He said no. I wanted to take a picture to make awareness of the plight of the migrant workers in Thailand. If he had a camera, I would go take a picture of my friend with the hotel background so the policeman and the girl would appear in the

Unfortunately, my friend and I left the scene, heading for church. I felt guilty that I couldn't really do anything for many helpless migrant workers like her from Burma.